And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.…
A glimpse into the darkness of the heathen world. Passions pent up let loose. The deep foundation of heathen superstition in the selfish, immoral practices of those who ministered to it. The widespreading effects of true religion in revolutionizing the habits and customs. Society must be reformed by the action of spiritual principles from within, not by merely external changes. Ignorance is the mother of disorder. The conflicts of the world are the result of the antagonism of good and evil. All wars proceed from religious roots. The true and abiding peace is the fruit of no other tree than that which God has planted. Notice -
I. ALL FALSE RELIGION RESORTS TO VIOLENCE TO PROTECT ITSELF. Idolatry was afraid of the truth. The corrupt Church has condemned itself by the use of such methods. All departure from the peaceful spirit of Christ has wrought evil results.
II. ALL BUSINESS WHICH PROFITS BY THE IGNORANCE, SUPERSTITION, AND EVIL PASSIONS OF MEN IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY. The immoral traffic by which men satisfy their greed of wealth cannot be too strenuously denounced. True religion remodels society in all respects. The working men should be taught that Christianity is their best friend; not any form of it, but the pure gospel.
III. EVEN IN THE HEATHEN WORLD GOD HAD WITNESSES TO HIMSELF. In Roman law and discipline; in common sense; in that natural religion, which doubtless prompted the more cultivated men of the time to doubt the extravagances of idolatry; in the moral instincts of conscience, which could appreciate the law-abiding and peaceful efforts of the new teachers and protect them from mob violence.
IV. Comparing this scene and its revelations with the Epistle to the Ephesians, we learn how the TRUTHS OF CHRIST WERE ADAPTED TO LIFT UP MIND, HEART, AND LIFE in the heathen world, substituting a better worship, a purer theology, a more stable society, a grander future, for all that then held mankind in bondage. "Silver shrines to Artemis" being abolished, the handicraft of men is turned to build up the earthly state, that it may bless those who live in it and the God to whose Name it is consecrated.
V. Face to face with the disorderly violence of the ignorant and misguided, the rule of all Christian enterprise is to withdraw as much as possible from contention; not to meet violence with violence, but to trust implicitly to THE ABSOLUTE SUPERIORITY OF MORAL OVER PHYSICAL FORCE. "Force is no remedy." Let the potsherd strive with the potsherd. Religion should regulate politics and social life by indirect means. As far as opportunity permits, the regulation of earthly matters should be left in the hands of the secular powers. Let the town-clerk dismiss the assembly. Let not Paul mix himself up in the strife. "Cast not your pearls before swine." Jesus did not strive, nor cry, nor make his voice heard in the streets. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.